Justin Bibb: State’s broadband ban undermines cities


Last week, the Ohio State Budget passed the Senate with a last-minute amendment to ban public broadband in cities across the state. This sweeping legislation snuck in by Republicans would have a lasting impact on Clevelanders. Mayoral candidate Justin Bibb is calling on the Statehouse and Governor Mike DeWine to urgently remove the ban during budget negotiations or by line-item veto.  

“Our city was recently ranked the least connected city in America and U.S. Census data shows that one in three households do not have access to the internet. This divisive piece of legislation will deepen that problem,” said Justin Bibb, candidate for Cleveland Mayor. 

The amendment undermines cities and its government partners like schools and libraries from working with telecommunications providers to offer low-cost internet services through a municipal broadband strategy. It also restricts the use of American Rescue Plan dollars to close the digital divide. 

“If signed into law, this ban on broadband will make closing the digital divide in Cleveland virtually impossible,” said Justin Bibb. “When a third of our residents are not online, they are held back economically and educationally. Access to high-speed, reliable internet is a must today to complete homework, find employment, access health care, start a business, or just stay informed.” 

“The biggest barrier to internet access is affordability and this amendment will only continue to put profit over people. It hands over the keys to the big telecommunications companies and blocks our shot at making the internet accessible to everyone,” he added. 

“I’m asking all Clevelanders, community organizations, activists and civic leaders to join me in calling on our state legislators to urge them to remove this midnight amendment to ensure residents have access to necessary online services. We must go a step further and demand limitations on American Rescue Plan funding are reversed and digital inclusion programs are funded,” said Bibb.  

“Ultimately, this amendment undermines the home rule of cities. I urge Governor DeWine to veto the amendment if the statehouse fails to remove it.” 

“As the least connected city in the country, we can’t afford more barriers to digital equity. Cleveland needs a municipal broadband strategy and as mayor, I’ll fight to connect every resident to the internet.” 

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